Apartment projects could help fulfill some Tri-City rental demand

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 20, 2014 

Construction is starting on the final $8.2 million phase of a south Richland apartment complex.

And plans are in the works to begin the first phase of a 642-unit apartment complex near Cottonwood Elementary School in Kennewick's Southridge area.

The out-of-state developers for the apartment projects are adding units that may help meet the demand for more Tri-City rental housing.

While the area's rental market has improved, thanks to about 15 new apartment projects in the past three years, real estate experts say there remains a demand for more rental housing in the growing area.

The Tri-Cities' apartment vacancy rate was 4.6 percent in March 2013, a definite improvement from the tight vacancy rate of 2 percent and less that made apartment hunting difficult for Tri-Citians in 2010 and 2011.

But developers aim for a 5 percent vacancy rate, which allows time for maintenance and repair, according to experts.

The city of Richland recently issued building permits to Bender Development LP of Hillsboro, Ore., to add eight stucco-sided apartment buildings to Belle Vista Apartments.

The second and final phase of the Belle Vista Apartments will add 106 units just east of the current complex, said Rick Simon, Richland's development services manager.

The two-story buildings at 2101 Steptoe St. will include 86 one-bedroom units and 20 two-bedroom units, according to city documents. The new residents will share the recreational building and swimming pool that is already in use by residents of the complex, which was built in 2004 and includes one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units.

Belle Vista Apartments is one of eight apartment complexes in Washington and Oregon owned by Bender Equities, owned by Fred and Kevin Bender.

Meanwhile, Edward Rose & Sons of Farmington Hills, Mich., is working on plans for the first 96 units of a 642-unit apartment complex at 10251 Ridgeline Drive. The project will be built on a vacant 46-acre parcel in the southwest corner of the intersection of Ridgeline Drive and South Clodfelter Road.

The developer of Badger Canyon Apartments in Kennewick plans to build the project in five phases, depending on market demand, according to city documents.

The first phase will include two 48-unit buildings and a clubhouse. The city is reviewing the site plans for this phase, said Evelyn Lusignan, Kennewick's customer service manager.

Grading work is being done on the site, Lusignan said. No building permits have been issued yet for the apartments or clubhouse.

Edward Rose & Sons has been planning the apartment complex for several years. In 2011, Kennewick's hearing examiner gave a stamp of approval to the developer's request to increase density from 13 units an acre to 14.3 units an acre and to increase the height of buildings from 30 to 35 feet, according to city documents.

The request was made because some areas of the 46 acres feature slopes of greater than 20 degrees, and the developer is required to preserve those areas, according to city documents. The height increase will allow the buildings to be up to three stories tall.

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w Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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